In the wake of renewed focus on social justice and structural racism, three education and child-focused organizations have joined forces to help expand the pool of scholarly information on racism and its impact on young people.
Recognizing there is a dearth of research on structural racism’s impact on children, three membership organizations have partnered to change that. The American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Society of Research on Adolescence (SRA), and the Society for Research in Child Development have jointly committed to advancing more scholarly research on the topic.
“Examining ways in which racism affects minority populations is not a new phenomenon,” says Velma McBride Murry, president of SRA. “What is new is the way scholars have begun to address the topic. There is a greater elevation beyond just the individual experiences of minority people—but looking at institutional systems that have been created and their effect.”
Tony Pals, AERA’s director of communications, agreed. “Our new effort represents a redoubling of our commitment to advance more innovative, high-quality research on this issue that can inform effective education practices and policies and enhance the public’s understanding,” he said.
The three associations will use their journals to publish scholarly research on topics related to systemic racism, the impacts of anti-Black racism, and the development of anti-racist attitudes.
The joining of forces occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s death and subsequent protests for racial justice, as it became clear, says Pals, that “systemic racism can no longer be ignored or minimized by our nation’s leaders.” Murry said the groups’ journal editors, independently of each other, began working to address the issue. When they got wind of what others were doing, that led to the joint initiative.
“We have worked in silos, and now—because this is a moment that is bringing the world together, in terms of the recognition of systemic racism—it is giving us a reason to say, ‘We should not be writing about this issue as a siloed, separate, compartmentalized focus,’” Murry said. “We need to get this out in our journals in a systemic way.”
The groups want other organizations follow suit in their own fields of study. “We hope that our joint initiative serves as an inspiration to other societies to explore the ways in which they can foster research on racism in their fields,” Pals said. “They may decide that another model works better for them, but the point is to consider what can be done to address this pandemic of systemic racism and take appropriate action.”
Pals said the journals will be “issuing their calls for submissions in the coming weeks, which is the beginning of the rigorous peer-review process. We expect to see these special issues published in 2021.”
The organizations also hope the research has a long-lasting effect. “We are aiming to make an impact that will reverberate for years and decades to come, not only in the field of education research but beyond it,” Pals said.
Murry added that the big impact for the research will be it being used. “I hope we can change policies that perpetuate systemic racism, that it will guide interventions, that they will be able to infuse these findings in the way they design programs,” Murry said. “Community-based organizations can benefit from this. We have to figure out how we can translate this in a practical way that it can be consumed by individuals at the community level, including parents.”